Truth is, I do most of my own work, but this piece was inspired by the hands of a man who sat in front of me on the Minneapolis light rail. His hands were oily, knotty, swollen, and his fingernails were none existent. I thought surely this guy is a mechanic, turns out, according to his shirt, that’s exactly what he was. Here are some things this man will never say:
1- I can’t fix your car this year, I’ll be on sabbatical: I know this sends some into a huff. I’m not for or against a sabbatical and I certainly understand them, especially in the academic world, but let’s stop and realize how the rest of the world functions the next time we take a year off to “slave” over a writing project. The rest of the world is working day in and day out. Sun up to sun down. I hear it all the time, “You’re over extending yourself”. Generally you’ll hear that from people who are not extending themselves at all.
2- Your transmission is busted, but I totally know what it’s like: If I had a penny for every time a minister matched their life story up with someone else’s in a time of need and caring, well, I’d have a bunch of penny’s given to me and a bunch of penny’s to give. Sometimes it fits the mood, but not always. Be wise with your own suffering as balm for other’s suffering.
3- You should really just get a new car: Just stop doing what’s ruining your life. God has no interest in yet another preacher coming on the scene, He’s looking for more pastors. He’s looking for shepherds. Shepherds walk with their people through the difficult times. I bet mechanics have those cars they have seen four times already that month. Do they complain? No. That’s their job and they know it. The only ones that complain are the ones that should have never become mechanics in the first place.
4- You really don’t need me, just google it: My mechanic is an expert. I’m a pastor. I’m an expert, and what on earth am I suppose to be an expert in? Life as a follower of Jesus, that’s what. At the end of the day, we’re all just Christians. Recently, a friend of mine from a large church in Texas spent some time with a group of us pastors here in the Twin Cities. When he said, “Your ministry is simply an overflow of your life”, it struck me to the core. As I followed the overflow back to my heart, it wasn’t pretty.
5- If my knuckles bleed one more time, I’m done: Caring for people in the midst of the drama of redemption is gut wrenching, difficult, slow, painful, heart shredding work, but we should expect this reality. When you are caring for people, you are going to bust the knuckles of your heart many times. Stay close to the Lord because there are going to be times that He will need to catch you.
I don’t call my mechanic, “Mechanic Jim”, and we need to be very cautious taking on the identity of “Pastor So and So”. At the end of the day, we’re all just Christians whose life is overflowing into ministry…